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F. R. Leyland

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 121
Date: 1874/1875
Medium: etching, drypoint and open bite
Size: 304 x 177 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 20
Catalogues: K.102; M.103; W.93
Impressions taken from this plate  (20)


full-length, man standing, portrait.


The sitter's full name was Frederick Richards Leyland. Although Whistler's exact title is not known, the sitter's name forms the basis for all published titles, for example:

'F. R. Leyland' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 3

3: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 93).


A full-length portrait of Frederick R. Leyland, facing front, standing with his left hand on his hip, in a dark doorway. He has dark straight hair combed from a parting on his left, a moustache and pointed beard. He is wearing evening dress, with a cloak or coat hanging from his right shoulder. His feet have not been drawn.


A portrait of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892). At this time Leyland would have been between 42 and 44 years old. Leyland had commissioned portraits of himself and family, and himself posed for Study in Grey for the Portrait of F. R. Leyland y095, Portrait Sketch of F. R. Leyland y096 and Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland y097, as well as this etching and several drawings. 4 He later figured in several caricatures by Whistler, including The Gold Scab y208, 'F. R. L.' Frill - of Liverpool begins to be uncertain about the White House m0718 and 'F. R. L. . . . frill!' m0719. 5

The oil portrait, reproduced below, was painted between 1870 and 1874, and was exhibited in Whistler's one-man exhibition in London in 1874.

4: Colby College Museum of Art, Freer Gallery of Art; r.: Portrait study of Frederick R. Leyland; v.: Head of a boy m0425, Portrait of Frederick R. Leyland m0426, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

5: California Palace of the Legion of Honour; Ashmolean Museum; also Caricature of F. R. Leyland m0720 (Hunterian) and F. R. Leyland m0721 (Glasgow University Library).

Etching: c_K102_01
Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F.R. Leyland,
Oil on canvas,
Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC.,
Gift of Charles Lang Freer, Acc. No. F1905.100a-b.
Whistler and his mother first visited Speke in September 1869, and he stayed there for several months from August 1870, painting Leyland, but as his mother noted: 'of course as his friend Mr L goes in & out to his business house in Liverpool daily, the Artist cannot confine himself to his Easel as he does too closely in his own Studio here.' 6 Whistler had considerable trouble painting Leyland, according to the Pennells:

6: A. M. Whistler to M. G. Hill, [8-]10 September [1870], GUW #07642.

'Whistler painted Leyland standing, in evening dress, with the ruffled shirt he always wore, against a dark background, an arrangement of black on black. Leyland was good about standing, Mrs Leyland says, but he had not much time, and few portraits gave Whistler more trouble. Leyland told Val Prinsep that Whistler nearly cried over the drawing of the legs.' 7


Whistler etched very few full-length male portraits, and those he did were mainly, like this one, related to a full-length oil portrait, in this case, to Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland y097. Lochnan suggest that the drypoint of Leyland:
'may have been made as a première pensée for the painting, in 1870. The figure of Leyland is elongated, tubular, streamlined and flattened, and assumes an aristocratic pose with one hand on its hip. The figure is detached from its surroundings in a dramatic way, and stands "on its legs," "well within the frame," in the manner which Whistler considered characteristic of the Spanish master' (that is, of Velasquez). 8
Although the drypoint is related to the portrait, it is actually of too late a date to be a preliminary study; it might, however, be related to Whistler's ongoing problems in resolving the oil portrait.
In technique and composition the drypoint can be compared with two drypoints, Irving as Philip of Spain, No. 1 158 and Irving as Philip of Spain, No. 2 159, which were in their turn related to the oil painting, Arrangement in Black, No. 3: Sir Henry Irving as Philip II of Spain y187.